The U.S. Army major arrested in connection with a November 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas has made more than $278,000 while some victims have literally gone hungry at times, KXAS-TV reported on Monday.
In a response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the station, the Defense Department confirmed that Nidal Hasan has continued to receive his usual salary while awaiting trial for an attack killing 13 service members and wounding 32 others due to a clause in the Military Code of Justice preventing his salary from being suspended unless he is proven guilty. Jury selection for Hasan’s trial is scheduled for May 29, with testimony set to begin on July 1.
A spokesperson for the department told KXAS that it “is committed to the integrity of the ongoing court martial proceedings of Major Nidal Hasan and for that reason will not further characterize, at this time, the incident that occurred at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009.”
At the same time, the station reported that the Army has refused to classify the victims’ injuries as “combat-related,” denying them wartime benefits accorded to service members and combat-related pay, despite the fact that the attack is listed by the National Counterterrorism Center as a “high fatality terrorist attack” and despite evidence that Hasan was in communication with a member of al-Qaeda before the assault. Instead, their injuries are attributed to “workplace violence.”
“There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries,” one victim, Spc. Logan Burnett, told the station. “We cannot afford gas in our car. Literally, times where we ate Ramen noodles for weeks on end.” Being shown a letter confirming Hasan’s pay status, he said, made him sick to his stomach.
Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL), a former prosecutor at the base, told KXAS he and a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking for the casualties incurred in the Fort Hood attack to be reclassified to allow the victims the benefits tied to combat-related injuries.
“What happened here is not a case of workplace violence,” Rooney said to the station. “What happened here was an attack on our military by a terrorist element specifically targeting our military, which just so happened to be in the United States of America.”
Watch KXAS’ report, aired Monday, below.
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